Vision: A Resource for Writers
Lazette Gifford, Editor
Vision@sff.net

The Lure of Magic

By Ann Kuykendall
© 2004, Ann Kuykendall


While I was chatting with my hair stylist at the salon, the subject came up of what I wanted to do when I graduate from university.  I told her I wanted to be a novelist, which impressed her.  However, when she asked me what I wanted to write, and I said fantasy, her reaction changed drastically.

"Fantasy?  Why that?" she asked me, as if Iíd just said I wanted be a professional street bum.

Surprised, I fumbled out a half-hearted answer, but it left me thinking:

Why do I write fantasy?  I expect my reasons canít be all that different from most others.

 

The allure of fantastical worlds

Some people dream of life on other planets, or in other countries, or just in other houses. I dream of alternate dimensions in which all the things they tell me don't exist in the real world really do exist.  Dragons, magic, knights in shining armor, epic quests...

They might not appear in our own world, but why can't they be in another?

Writing fantasy means making new worlds, and sometimes mixing old worlds with the new.   I have a fondness for ancient civilizations, and this interest comes in handy when world-building.

In creating other worlds, I am indeed creating my worlds, and within those worlds anything can happen.  I can make the country or world a monarchy or senate.  I can make it both.  Or I could make two different countries have opposing governments, next to one another, the conflict rolling in like thunder clouds.

Do people live from pods suspended from trees?  In a different world, they very well could.

 

The allure of fantasy in our own world

Contemporary and urban fantasy happen to be my favorite subgenres of fantasy.  If things can exist in a different world, maybe they can exist in our own.  What is the basis of mythology, anyway?

Some psychologists feel there is a primitive impulse in the mind that makes all cultures, no matter how separate, come to believe in gods and the afterlife.  Contemporary and urban fantasy -- fantasy set in our own world -- asks the question "what if?"  What if we have that impulse because gods really existed?  What if there are fairies lurking in the alleyways? What if there are dragons in the mountains, hiding far out of the sight of the people who ceased to believe in them so long ago?  Can a human harness magic?  What if ghosts were real? 

When the floors creak, they say itís the house settling.  When there is a scratch against the window, they tell you itís just the tree branches outside.

But what if itís not?

 

Escapism

Take me away from the world I know.  When writing fantasy, I can go to a far away world, where things arenít what they seem, or even a place closer to home, but with preternatural aspects hiding in the corners. 

Sometimes itís fun to take a few hours and run away from the reality of bills that need to be paid, homework that needs to be done, and the other nuances of daily, mundane life.  Instead, I can (through my characters) fight evil, save the world, and traverse distant, otherworld lands, or explore my own with new eyes.

 

No limits

Is your desk really an animate beast, simply resting under your computer to let you work?  Does magic exist?  Are dragons really people, going to work during the day and soaring through the skies at night?

Fantasy pulls us away from the limits of the "real world".  Maybe that couple really is cursed. 

Fantasy gives a wide berth for things that would otherwise seem silly in our day-to-day mundane lives.  It gives us license to run away with "what if" and other worlds.  Fantasy pushes and sometimes even throws away our reality, and a good fantasy will make it believable.

 

These are some of the some of the reason I choose to write fantasy.  I enjoy exploring new worlds, recreating my own, and playing with the bounds of reality, all while daydreaming and sitting at my desk.

What draws you to fantasy?